Tag: Documentary

2020, Movies

2020 Toronto International Film Festival

For what may be the third year in a row, I only saw 5 movies at TIFF. Every year I resolve to see more the next year but it never seems to happen. Now, this year is different, obviously. This year I watched TIFF films on my couch. And this year I only watched 5 …

2020, Movies

The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel (2020, Jennifer Abbott, Joel Bakan)

I saw the original Corporation sometime back in the aughts. I have no idea whether or not I would like it now. This film is infuriating, both because of the problems in the world it reminds us of, and because of how unfocused it is. In many ways, it feels like two movies, the sequel …

2020, Movies

76 Days (2020, Weixi Chen, Hao Wu, Anonymous)

This is a harrowing but ultimately kind of triumphant fly-on-the-wall style documentary about COVID-19 patients and the frontline workers looking after them in China. If you are lucky enough to have not gotten sick but feel like this has been really hard, I strongly suggest you watch this movie. (And if you think this whole …

2020, Movies

Enemies of the State (2020, Sonia Kennebeck)

This is a masterful documentary about an American potential whistle-blower accused of child pornography and related charges, who took refuge in Canada. I paid no attention to the story at the time, so the entire thing was new to me. Before I get to the review: if you like documentaries about the nature of truth, …

2019, Movies

Citizen K (2019, Alex Gibney)

This is a mostly excellent documentary about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oligarch turned activist and his battle with Vladimir Putin. It’s particularly notable for two things: its attempts to portray Khodorkovsky as a flawed person, and its relative creativity at telling the story.

2016, Movies

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City (2016, Matt Tyrnauer)

I always thought Jane Jacobs was from Toronto. Shows you what I know. This is an interesting documentary specifically about the battles between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs over roads in New York and more generally about the urban renewal and how to plan cities in general. It’s interesting, informative and thought-provoking. As one of …

2006, Movies

Shut Up & Sing (2006, Barbara Kopple, Cecilia Peck)

Can you imagine being so angry at a band that you drove over their CDs with a tractor? I can’t imagine Jeff Tweedy doing something that will that would make me so angry I would drive over my Wilco CDs or light them on fire. I just can’t relate to it. At all.

2002, Movies, Music

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (2002, Sam Jones)

As a big fan of Wilco, and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, it’s crazy it took me this many years to watch this movie. But it’s possible that the intervening years gave me some clarity with it, that I might not have had when I was first falling in love with this band (more than a few …

2020, TV

Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez (2020)

This is a frustrating but also fascinating brief documentary series about Aaron Hernandez the NFL tight end who was convicted of murdering one person, charged with murdering two others, and credibly accused of shooting at least one other person. I paid no attention to this at the time so much of this was new to …

2014, Movies

Children 404 (2014, Askold Kurov, Pavel Loparev)

Ever since we all started recording ourselves, there has been an absolute trove of material for filmmakers to use to cover basically any subject they want. I don’t know when this started exactly, but I feel like this must have been one of the earlier films to take full advantage of this new facet of …

2007, Movies

Chicago 10 (2007, Brett Morgan)

The trial of 10 people after the demonstrations outside the 1968 Democratic Convention is certainly a notable trial in the history of civil liberties abuses in the United States. And it is a story that deserves to be told. But I’m not sure if this ADD movie is the right vehicle for it. Moreover, it …

2016, Movies, TV

OJ: Made in America (2016, Ezra Edelman)

I must say I paid relatively little attention to the OJ trial. I think I watched the car chase and I remember our French teacher bringing in the TV to watch the verdict, but that’s about it. My memory of the entire case is more about perceptions of what other people thought rather than facts. …

2018, Movies

Free Solo (2018, Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi)

I thought I wanted to see this movie in theatres. Watching it on the small screen, I think I’m okay with not seeing it in theatres. I’m not sure I would have been able to watch some of it in theatres because I have a fear of heights. SPOILERS if you don’t know anything at …

2015, Movies

Danny Says (2015, Brendan Toller)

This is a fascinating documentary about a journalist/publicist/manager/etc. from New York who was tangentially involved in the careers of a number of major bands, from the Beatles to the Ramones. If you’re interested in the history of popular music, particularly punk, or if you’re interested in New York in the late 1960s and the 1970s, …

1990, Movies, Uncategorized

Central Park (1990, Frederick Wiseman)

Wiseman documentaries are a bit of a challenge if you’re in the wrong mood but at least when you’re in a theatre you have no distractions and you must confront the film without focusing on anything else. Watching one at home is a real challenge because it’s so easy to find something else to pay …

1967, 2015, Movies

Censored Voices (2015, Mor Loushy)

This is a compelling and moving documentary with a relatively novel format, which may not initially seem compelling but which is well worth your time. The film tells the story of Israeli soldiers’ experiences during the Six Day War through audio recordings made just after the war, which were suppressed by the Israeli government for …

2019, Movies

Fyre (2019, Chris Smith)

This is a fascinating film about the disastrous Fyre Festival that we all heard about on social media. It’s a classic story of the problem with “fake it until you make it” mentality of entrepreneurship. If you’ve watched or read anything about fraud, you’ve probably heard this story before. But it’s also about the problems …

2010, Movies

Catfish (2010, Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman)

Yes, I realize I’m getting to Catfish 8 years too late. In the meantime, there’s a show and the term has entered the lexicon. I.e. I know what this is about. So whatever shock I would have experienced seeing it when it first came out is obviously gone. This is unfortunate but hopefully it doesn’t …

2010, Movies

Casino Jack and the United States of Money (2010, Alex Gibney)

This is an episodic yet frenetic documentary about Jack Abramoff and his lobbying scandal. I can’t say I loved the style of the film, which was a little over-reliant on pop culture cues, but the film takes a serious issue and makes it entertaining, which is something that should be commended.

2014, Movies

The Case Against 8 (2014, Ben Cotner, Ryan White)

So any pretense to “objectivity” for a message movie “documentary” like this is thrown out the window. But if you believe there is a “both sides” to marriage equality you are likely not going to watch this documentary about the law suit to overturn California’s infamous Proposition 8, nor will you accept this film, which …

2018, Movies

Screwball (2018, Billy Corben)

If I could describe this documentary about Biogenesis and Alex Rodriguez in one word, it would be “glib.” This is one of the glibbest documentaries I’ve ever seen. On the one hand, that makes for a pretty funny movie. On the other hand, the style is very over the top and the filmmakers appear to …

2018, TV

Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist (2018, Barbara Schroeder)

This is a documentary miniseries about an absolutely bonkers crime, which shouldn’t be called America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist, but rather American’s Craziest Bank Heist, or America’s Worst Bank Heist. If you are interested in true crime, I would strongly recommend watching this, both for how it tells the story and how this particularly story – …

2018, Movies

McQueen (2018, Ian Bonhôte, Peter Ettedgui)

This is a pretty conventional chronology + historical footage + talking heads style documentary about someone who may have been, in my ignorant opinion, one of the most interesting fashion designers in history. I know nothing about fashion, and I really don’t care about it. It was only in adulthood that I discovered that there …